Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Prednisone is a corticosteroid. It helps to reduce swelling, redness, itching, and other allergic reactions. Prednisone is often used as a short-term asthma rescue treatment. It is rarely used as a long-term treatment if your asthma is hard to control.1-3

Prednisone comes in multiple forms, including tablets, liquid, and oral solutions.1-3

How does prednisone work for asthma?

Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory. It suppresses the immune system. Prednisone works by acting like cortisol, a natural steroid made by the body.1-3

Prednisone helps to relieve the effects of an asthma attack and helps prevent further asthma symptoms from developing. These include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.1-3

What are the ingredients in prednisone?

Prednisone is a generic drug. The active ingredient is prednisone.1-3

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of prednisone include:1-3

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes, including aggression and agitation
  • Bulging eyes, blurred vision
  • Fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Pounding in the ears
  • Swelling of fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs
  • Weight gain
  • Increased hair growth
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • High blood sugar levels

These are not all the possible side effects of prednisone. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking prednisone. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking prednisone.

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Other things to know

Before starting treatment with prednisone, tell your doctor if you have:1-3

  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Infection, especially a virus infection like chickenpox, cold sores, or herpes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • A mental health condition
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Seizures
  • Stomach or intestine problems
  • Thyroid disease
  • An allergy to lactose, prednisone, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

Do not get vaccines while taking prednisone without your doctor's approval.1-3

You may need to follow a low-salt, high-potassium, or high-calcium diet while taking prednisone. You may also need to take a calcium or potassium supplement while taking prednisone. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.1-3

Prednisone can harm an unborn baby. If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of prednisone. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control while taking prednisone.1-3

Corticosteroids can weaken your immune system. This increases your risk of getting an infection or fighting an infection. Call your doctor if you show symptoms of an infection, such as:1-3

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

Prednisone may interact with dozens of medicines and supplements, including antibiotics, antifungals, blood thinners, and pain relievers. Before taking prednisone, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.1-3

For more information, read the full prescribing information of prednisone.

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